An Ex-pat Monthly Experience of Moving to Gandia, Spain - Part 22

16th February 2024
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February here we come!

February here we come ……

So, Christmas disappears into the distant past and the year really begins in earnest! What that really means is that you realise how much you ate and drank over December and that the mirror hasn’t been replaced by a fairground distortion jobby and you need to sort yourself out before the sun returns! (speak for yourself – Ed).

So, all the good intentions begin – and fade just as quickly! Yes, Spain is no different dear reader. In fact, it’s worse, because generally speaking there are even more reasons (excuses – Ed) to eat out, go dinner-visiting with friends and the suchlike.  For example, we have lovely neighbours who have a villa just down the road from us. They are still of working age and in fact run their own respective businesses, partly from Harlem, their hometown, but also, thanks to the modern technical age, also from their Spanish villa. Whenever they arrive, we always enjoy their company and share a common delight of finding good food to go and enjoy. We discuss everything from politics to families and even stray comfortably into the usually banned subject of religion. You see, this is the problem with a life in Spain. You meet such interesting people all the time. That’s not to say that living in the UK you don’t, but again, these particular neighbours are Dutch and Swedish, respectively. They have lived in many parts of the World, so apart from being academically well educated, they are ‘worldly educated.’ That increases the compatibility with other ‘hippyish’ ex-pats exponentially. By hippyish, I guess a more accurate word would be adventurous.

You see in the two and a half years that Boofuls wife-person (oh how wonderfully pc – Ed) and I have lived here, we have formed a fairly strong opinion that there are two types of folk that decide to live abroad, particularly in their golden years. There are those that we cannot seem to understand and those that we can. The former often appear to think that we are living in the days of the Raj and that the only thing missing are the staff to attend them, constantly bemoaning the heat, the sun, the noise, the heat, the lack of Britishness, the roads, the heat, the lack of seasonal change, the language, the price of tomatoes and have I mentioned, the heat? For them, living in Spain is pushing the parameters of what a Brit should endure, and everything is better ‘back home.’ The latter tend to see life as much more of an adventure to be undertaken with zest. They love the lifestyle, the weather, the difference, growing twenty different types of tomato and trying to get rid of two hundred surplus lemons from their tree to other folks who already have more than they can use themselves! We class ourselves with the latter!

Sure, there are the most incredibly frustrating official challenges and anyone working for a government office in Spain has attended the most incredibly effective training in how to make the simplest procedure into an incomprehensible frustration, bordering on the impossible, example of how to be a professional jobsworth any of us have ever encountered. But it’s nothing personal. We all complain about it, but you soon learn that there is nothing to be gained from trying to fight it. You have to play the game.  You learn to recognise that even in the dear old UK, government offices try to be just as useless, it’s just that they need more practice. So, you do your best to rise above it and jokingly deprecate it with your neighbours and friends and get on with enjoying the lovely life that you’re really here for.

Today, we drove for about twenty minutes to a small area close to the town of Pego. Actually, it’s a valley with a very picturesque road running along the length of it. A handful of tiny ‘pobles’ retaining their names from historic times. All beginning with ‘Ben,’ meaning that they were originally Muslim populated villages belonging to the family or son of someone of stature. They cling to the side of ridiculously steep slopes, many of the streets unable to take a car, which has to be parked off the side of the ‘main road’ connecting them.

With Wolfie in the boot, along for the ride (made a nice change I suppose – Ed), we went off to inspect the Almond blossom. We did actually do better than last year when we didn’t see one single tree in bloom. Today, we found over a dozen! Woop! Woop! But we did have a little walk with Wolfie along very ancient tracks, one leading to a still inhabited but defunct apiary. The bees were NOT friendly, and we rapidly retreated. A little café was very friendly, however and we enjoyed a café con leche at a little cast iron table overlooking the valley and mountains with ancient olive groves and pines as a break to the coarseness of the rocky ground. Oh yes, two very tasty coffees cost three euros. That’s approximately two pounds eighty pence in total. What did you pay for yours this morning?

Anyway, I digress. (how unusual – Ed) Missus H decided that she needed a little more fulfilment this year and has commenced a voluntary job in a local Animal Charity shop. There are many of these in Spain, usually run by a combination of British, German and Dutch ex-pats and supported by the same. It’s such a clever system. You donate what you don’t want for free, then you go back to the shop and buy more stuff that you don’t really want and sooner or later donate it back again! These charities have a very high profile to encourage funding and support from their local area. We attend a monthly charity quiz night/raffle event/evening meal and get together, during most of last year, where surprisingly generous sums of money are raised to support PEPA. Our retired ex-pats band also played for free to help raise funds at the annual fiesta and fund-raising day. So, life here does not have to be without constructive ventures and rewarding experiences of a more altruistic nature. It’s also interesting how you gradually change from a newbie into a ‘local’ resident, almost without noticing. It really does seem as though we have only been here for a few months sometimes until we realise how much information we have accrued to pass on to other real newbies as they join our happy band in Gandia. Be it lawyers or tilers, someone will always know a good ‘un!

So, as we begin the move towards spring 2024, what are your plans? The sun is already shining here, albeit it’s a bit chilly when the sun drops down and we’ve just had a delivery of local olive, orange and citrus logs for the fire as it makes for a deliciously comfortable centrepiece on the evenings when we settle down to watch a box set with Wolfie (Aw thanks for the mention – Ed) and Borja, our rescued furbag cat. Well, that’s when we’re not round at a neighbour or entertaining friends ourselves or attending a class or practising with the band. Did I mention that Missus H has also taken up crocheting? Trust me. You don’t want to stand still for too long, you’ll leave with a crocheted scrunchy or pair of underpants. Just joking …….. about the scrunchy!

See ya!

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